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Auckland could become a ghost town this summer

Written By: - Date published: 3:09 pm, November 18th, 2021 - 39 comments
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Many Aucklanders are poised to leave the city when the borders open (and the bubble bursts?) on 15 December. This is understandable after having been cooped up for months and no chance of taking selfies on the beach outside of Auckland and the conviction that the grass in Northland is always greener even in a severe drought. These fortunate people will be mostly the have’s with the 3 B’s (boat & bach & Beemer) and 3 C’s (Covid certificate & credit card & clean crystal-clear conscience) while the usual have-not’s will stay behind in the city and work in retail, hospitality, or cleaning, i.e. the great unwashed or unvaccinated with a moral stain on their conscience.

The international borders will stay closed, so there won’t be an influx of returning Kiwis or overseas visitors/tourists.

The border crossings will not resemble Checkpoint Charlie and police will undertake spot checks only. Perhaps they could combine it with checkpoints for drink-driving, which have been so effective in saving lives. Thus, it is likely that some (?) Aucklanders will exit the city while carrying the virus and take it with them. If little Johnny in the backseat, aged 12, is not fully vaccinated or doesn’t have a negative test less than 72 hours old he will face a fine of $1,000. This will be good lesson for life for little Johnny: actions (or inactions) can have dire consequences. On the other hand, if visiting his granny, in her 90s, who’s fully vaccinated many months ago, little Johnny or his unvaccinated younger siblings could unwittingly transmit the virus and make their granny very ill with Covid. Of course, they had this conversation before planning the trip and getting in the car and made an informed, unbiased, and wholly ‘rational’ choice and fully accepted or at least considered all the consequences, as you do.

While little Johnny is treasuring his final school days of the year in school he doesn’t have to be vaccinated at all or show a negative test. Apparently, the mandate for teachers and all staff has bullied the virus out of schools; without the mandates many would not have made the right choice in time for the borders to reopen and Government would have been accused of being a Christmas Scrooge, which would be unkind and unfair.

Some locals in the usual holiday spots will be very excited about the pending spending of Auckland dollars while others might feel some trepidation about the risk of spreading the virus into more vulnerable communities. Either way, it might not do much for a positive public opinion of Aucklanders in general even though Auckland has done it tough for all these months in lockdown.

After the holiday break returning Aucklanders won’t have need to have proof of full-vaccination status or a negative test when crossing the spotty ‘borders’. Let’s hope that having been away for a few weeks won’t be long enough to increase community spread of the virus and infection of Aucklanders before they go home and back to work in early January or back to school later in the month. Even fully vaccinated people can still catch and transmit the virus, albeit at lower rates/levels, and unvaccinated children under the age of 12 could become a major source of new infections, as seen in other (European) countries. In the current Delta outbreak 1302 of all positive cases (21%) are under 12 years of age and therefore not vaccinated; the same group accounts for 21 of all hospitalised cases (6%).

A few people might head into Auckland, e.g. to visit family or friends. No paperwork required. However, when they leave they’ll have to be able to show the required documentation or face the consequences. The reasoning behind this apparent inconsistency is that being in Auckland carries a higher risk although the hope (!) is that the high vaccination rates will change this by 15 December and the return date of 17 January. Unfortunately, not all regions (i.e. DHBs) have such high vaccination rates – major local differences can exist even within DHBs aka heterogeneity – and it seems wishful thinking on behalf of the authorities that this situation will fundamentally change and improve in time for the mass movement of travellers, regardless of any mandates. And as the experience of highly vaccinated countries has shown relying on even very high vaccination levels alone is not a smart move and can have dire consequences although summer weather in NZ will be an advantage.

Government is bowing to political pressure and the multipronged lure of summer, Christmas, and holidays is simply too strong to resist let alone stop. It is easy to imagine that if things go pear-shaped the blame and responsibility will be divvied up between Government and Aucklanders. Feelings of anger and resentment can linger for a lifetime, which doesn’t bode well for the future. This could be the best of summers (for some), it could be the worst of summers (for others).

Happy holidays …

39 comments on “Auckland could become a ghost town this summer ”

  1. Brigid 1

    I get to see my loverly chillen!!!!

    After months and months and months, and they don't have to spend krismiss alone.

  2. Patricia Bremner 2

    Our son who lives alone can visit us on Sat, and we can visit Norm's brother in Auckland later. They have been home for 12 weeks so going over to Waiheke to see their daughter and grandsons will be on their agenda. I said something similar about an exodus.

  3. Alan 3

    So what would you do Incognito, what is your alternative plan?

  4. Anita 2 4

    This article and the mainstream and social media seems to forget that the majority of Auckland (like the rest of New Zealand) is not wealthy, it doesn’t go away for summer holidays. Some Auckland kids won’t have been to Auckland beaches in the last year, they don’t have usual holiday hotspots to leave for.

    Stories like these, and the MSM’s obsession with Aucklanders going to their baches, obscures and ignores poverty and deprivation.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/9806873/Lifes-a-beach-but-not-for-everyone tells a story that’s more real. Let’s not forget the kids who will spend their summer in COVID ridden Auckland, as they do every year.

    • weka 4.1

      Hi Anita, we have another commenter here called Anita. I've changed your user name to Anita 2, feel free to choose a new ongoing name on your next comment or use Anita 2 from now on, thanks.

      • Anita 4.1.1

        I’m pretty sure I’m the same Anita I’ve been here for nearly 14 years 🙂 I think a device I use suddenly decided to obscure my email address to protect me from the interwebs 😉

        Huh, and now I can’t unobscure it. Will fiddle with settings later.

        • weka 4.1.1.1

          cool, thanks Anita. The email address is in the clear now, but it had a typo (there's a bug on some devices in the email and name fields to keep an eye). Fixed now and you have your avatar back.

  5. DukeEll 5

    I can’t wait to hit a northland beach and have a decent swim. Won’t feel guilty in the slightest.

    it’s not like this day hasn’t been coming and vaccines haven’t been available in northland since may.

  6. observer 6

    December headlines, written in advance:

    "There were long delays on the roads out of Auckland as cars were stopped and people checked for proof of vaccination/testing …"

    Also:

    "There was outrage as a Covid-positive person left Auckland without being checked …"

    Also:

    "Opposition leader Simon Bridges said the government must sort out the shambles of letting the virus out and the misery of Aucklanders not being let out …"

  7. JanM 7

    When I lived in Auckland the summer holidays were my favourite time to be home – no awful traffic jams, parking available and room to move on the lovely beaches. It was a ghost town then and I loved it!

    • Johnr 7.1

      I'm with you JanM. Twice speared jaffa here. My dilemma is that my 100year old mum lives in a rest home south of the border which I haven't seen since June. But now I'm getting all jittery about visiting in Dec.

      What, if I brought the germ into her rest home, how could you live with that outcome ??

  8. Maurice 8

    The general consensus down South is that the disease ridden are not welcome.

    Many from the big cities may well flee permanently to more small town/rural areas and never return – having learnt the lesson that living in a "stew" of disease is not conductive to survival. Time to sell up – before the price of houses crashed in the cities?

    • AB 8.1

      I am crafting a fine set of wooden clappers of the type used by lepers in the past. As an Ork I can therefore forewarn the provincial healthy that I'm a potential source of contagion. I'm fully expecting various 'icons' of the NZ fashion industry to steal the idea and produce designer versions for several hundred dollars each just in time for Xmas.

  9. Ad 9

    Finally, liveable Auckland.

  10. I'm going up North for Christmas with whanau and elderly parents. Will have a vaccine passport. I could have gone up at the start of the pandemic but respected the rules and did what was right. Now the rules have changed. Family will not be around for ever.

    Aucklanders don't much like living in a pressure cooker with a bunch of rule breaking numpties spreading the virus around either. The rest of NZ needs to stop their prejudiced bullcrap. We have done everything the government asked, and paid a high price for YOUR safety.

    Give us a break. And look after your own back yard FFS.

    • left_forward 10.1

      Thanks heaps for the high price you've paid, Mr Aucklander. It doesn’t excuse you though from respecting the people and environment of Northland. Hopefully a rest on the beach might help you relax the victim attitude and you might begin to notice the heat up here too – have a great holiday and then head back home to the pressure cooker.

    • weka 10.2

      if you add in, visibly, that you are going to do all the other things in addition to the vaccine (distancing, being outside, not going to spreader events, handwashing, mask wearing etc) then I think people will relax on this issue somewhat.

      I get the urgency (I recently put a lot of things on hold to visit elder family who I hadn't seen for a long time). I think we can still be careful and considered in how we do this. And judge how important it actually is. Visiting elderly whānau strikes me as a good reason, having a holiday when one could choose to go elsewhere or even stay in one's own area, not so much.

      I know that down south, the idea of people from covid community areas coming here for Christmas because that's what they do is not being welcomed. Visiting family is a different matter, and still needs care. Even more care needed in the areas with low Māori etc vax rates.

      • weka 10.2.1

        the thing about areas without covid in the SI is that we don't know yet how it's going to play out. The vaccine is a good tool, not a panacea. And for those of us living in rural areas away from a major hospital (or those living in the SDHB rohe who know how long term stressed the health system is here, darklol), it's important to understand there's very little explanation of how this will work in practice. The details aren't there yet, everyone has been focused on the vaccination programme.

        • roblogic 10.2.1.1

          I suspect the subculture that is experiencing the worst of Covid in Auckland right now are not the kind to go on South Island holidays or have baches in the Coromandel.

          • weka 10.2.1.1.1

            what's your point rob? That the worst infected are least like to travel, rich people who can travel are less likely to be infectious? It doesn't really matter who brings it south, and I would have thought Auckland of all places would understand this.

          • joe90 10.2.1.1.2

            the subculture

            Working folk are a subculture?

    • Tricledrown 10.3

      Vaccination doesn't mean you are safe depending on your genetic make up any underlying health conditions.

      Looking overseas even with high vaccination rates many countries are experiencing surges which are getting out of Control.

      So everybody needs to be extra careful with this freedom stay outdoors for gatherings wear masks 53% less likely to contract Covid.

      Don't be a fwit and think your bullet proof.

  11. Tiger Mountain 11

    I am a critic of the Labour Caucus for being too timid on various matters, and basically squandering a once in a generation MMP majority Govt. But, only the thick or malicious would not realise they have done so well handling COVID overall if you simply look at the numbers.

    The personal toll on some MPs and staff can only be imagined at this stage. So many competing needs from the population, so many ungrateful wretches, so many unheard working class voices behind the high pitched petit bourgeiosie whining. A large silent group is thankful and doing their best to cope as irregular polls show.

    It is definitely not over yet either, it looks like it may be a very COVID Christmas indeed. Stay in place and hunker down for a bit longer I say. But hey, that is the spoiler attitude–time to party and visit every one imaginable–after all you deserve it–but do we deserve it?

    • gsays 11.1

      I largely agree with you, the numbers reference in yr first paragraph is where we are going to go awry.

      With the benefit of physical isolation and generally being a month or three behind the rest of the world, we are headed on the same trajectory- lockdown, vaccinate, open up, next wave of illnesses… Only this time it is the complacent amongst the vaccinated that will be the concern.

  12. Macro 12

    So we here in the Coromandel are now planning to spend summer in Auckland to avoid the pandemic. smiley​​​​​​

    • Anne 12.1

      The perfect time to visit Auckland is between the 24th Dec. and around the 16th Jan. The roads are relatively clear, the beaches not too crowded, shopping is a pleasant exercise and all round peace reigns.

      Then they all come back. angry

      • Whispering Kate 12.1.1

        Its ideal for Auckland residents too who choose to stay at home over the summer break. No crowds of shoppers in the malls, ample car parking, absolutely no gridlock on the roads. Auckland is at its finest when the hoards offload themselves to the provinces. Until the schools/universities go back in the New Year life is very pleasant indeed in our fair city. We look forward to it every year. My sympathies go to the Provinces who will be invaded by JAFFAS and we Aucklanders absolutely do know how they feel about us.

    • Tiger Mountain 12.2

      That's the spirit.

      A friend of mine has been visiting and walking all sorts of green spaces and parks in his area as appropriate during Auckland downtime. He buys food from a local business each time and puts his trip up on FB for others to share which we have enjoyed vicariously.

      It is amazing the local parks and viewpoints and military installations there are throughout the city, which many people pass by oblivious. I had 27 years in Auck (Far North since mid 90s) and never saw half of them either.

      This summer is danger ahead.

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